Kayaker Missing off Everett WA

kayakwriter

Administrator
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
1,106
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattl...lc6jWJQbzaYI_XPnkU8pC3hRC_uUqYAeaOrFnolfgxQzI

That description of the paddler screaming for help on the phone but apparently unable to communicate their location (whether because they didn't know it or because the background noise prevented it) is just heartbreaking. We may never have enough info to know for sure whether it would have made the difference between help arriving on time or not, but a DSC-equipped handheld VHF and/or PLB would have let him broadcast his exact location with the push of a button.
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,413
In this case, the call for help was answered in very short order - the kayak was found in the range of 45 minutes after the call! [body found about 12 hrs later next day]

That's a very short time to die of hypothermia [assuming he was still in the boat at time of call] . . . although drowning was named as an additional cause of death.

We won't really know what actually happened, but this is one more silent piece of evidence to stay with the boat if possible - it's way more visible.

call in at 12:37pm:

kayak found before 2:00pm:
https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/cr...land-recover-body/7CZQNK3W2FFBVGN2J4UAYKNPTE/

more precisely, kayak found approx. 45min after call:
https://www.q13fox.com/news/search-crews-find-body-believed-to-be-missing-kayaker

**

To make it more complex [unfortunately], the kayak was found on shore the 45min or so later . . . . so did he gamble on swimming??
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,262
Location
Victoria, BC
In high winds, an empty kayak will travel a lot faster than a floating person, or a kayak attached to a floating person.
It would be a mistake to assume that the victim would have reached shore in 45 minutes.

Also, the kayak was found "after 45 minutes of searching", not the same as 45 mnutes after the call for help.
Even 45 minutes would be long time to cling to a kayak in high winds and waves, in cold water.

None of the news reports (in the links above) mention Mr Lesemann's clothing, only that he was wearing a PFD.

It's really a tragic accident.

It's easy to be 'caught out' by high winds; it's happened to me. I was fortunate to be in a group and close to shore.
 

chodups

Paddler
Joined
Nov 2, 2005
Messages
1,190
I have limited experience paddling in Possession Sound though many of the folks in NSSKA are very familiar with it. I've heard no details yet. I'm guessing that Mr. Lesemann capsized and was separated from his boat which blew across the mouth of the Snohomish River. The boat traveled with the wind while Mr. Lesemann traveled ~4.5 NM with the currents.

It is very sad. Hopefully we will learn how he was equipped aside from having a PFD and carrying his cell phone.
Possession Sound.JPG
 

kayakwriter

Administrator
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
1,106
In high winds, an empty kayak will travel a lot faster than a floating person, or a kayak attached to a floating person.It would be a mistake to assume that the victim would have reached shore in 45 minutes.
And again, it's difficult to impossible to know if this would have made any difference to the outcome in this particular case, but it's an argument for having your VHF/PLB on your person in a PFD pocket or shoulder holster rather than tucked in a "glove compartment" forward deck hatch or in a Pelican minicase under the bungies.
 

alexsidles

Paddler
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
498
Location
Seattle WA
I paddle Possession Sound once or twice each spring to look for gray whales. It definitely gets rough on a southerly wind. I think there may be an amplifying effect due to the narrowing of the channel between Possession Point and Mukilteo.

Early afternoon Tuesday, November 9, Paine Field in Everett was reporting south winds at 24 mph (21 kn, 38 kph), with gusts half again as strong. However, Paine Field is a mile and a half inland from Possession Sound. I have to believe wind would have been stronger out on the sound.

Even at 24 mph, Possession Sound would have been absolutely rocking. One of the reports Mick linked says that "conditions were dangerous for search teams" around 5:00 PM, and the wind at that point had actually subsided a bit to 20 mph.

Alex
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,262
Location
Victoria, BC
It does make a case for having a contact towline available so in the event one is unable to re-enter (due to skill, conditions, or injury) one could at least stay with the boat after fatigue and cold makes it impossible to hold on.
I agree. Depending on the way your towline is set up (waistbelt, on PFD front) it may be possible to clip the end of that to a deckline, if the contact towline is out of reach.
When I'm paddling solo - even in benign conditions- I clip a 'bow painter' to a shockcord loop attached to the front of my sprayskirt.
I first heard of that system from a friend who paddled with Freya Hoffmeister.
 

JKA

Paddler
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
207
Location
Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
That's a very short time to die of hypothermia [assuming he was still in the boat at time of call] . . . although drowning was named as an additional cause of death.


"The medical examiner said he died of hypothermia and drowning."




All the research that I've seen identifies drowning caused by swim failure caused by cooling as the reason people usually die in cold water. Most people don't live long enough to die from hypothermia. Wearing a PFD doesn't help when you can't keep your airway clear of the water.

The 1-10-1 Principle:

1 minute to gain control of your breathing,
10 minutes of meaningful movement to perpetuate self-rescue
1 hour before becoming hypothermic and losing consciousness.

Ten minutes before becoming too cold to be co-ordinated is a scary thought.

This is the message that must be driven into sea kayakers when doing any meaningful rescue training.
 

mick_allen

Paddler & Moderator
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
3,413
I don't take such a fatalistic view of the situation given the same skill:
1) given the same skill, if he was tethered - there may have been a possibility of rescue.​
2) given the same skill, if he had given coordinates - there may have been the possibility of rescue.​
3) given the same skill, if he could have hung on - there may have been the possibility of rescue.​

at the most, he was in the water 83 minutes [likely less] . . . will you positively be dead in 83 minutes or be severely hypothermic but still alive. Are those rules, rules? or variables?

or . . . if you are in the glue, do you give up or do you play for time
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,262
Location
Victoria, BC
at the most, he was in the water 83 minutes [likely less] . . .
I don't think this has been established. He could have been floating, becoming increasingly hypothermic, for hours.

Once he was seaparated from his boat, his visibility to rescuers plummeted, and that could have happened as soon as he capsized.

Mick-
I agree with your points:
1) With a tether he would have been more visible, to any searchers looking on the water. The boat was found washed ashore, as was the body, from the news reports.

2)Co-ordinates: Depending on the type of paddle outing, I use a handheld GPS or a GPS watch. My phone is in a drybag in a compartment. Getting my lat-lon coordinates from the handheld GPS would take a bit of thought and button pushing in a calm situation. I'd probably have to look up the owners manual to get my coordinates from the GPS watch. And from the phone? I don't have a clue. Definitely not something I could do when in the water in a 20-30-40 knot wind and breaking seas. If you mean location, yes - "about a mile South of xxx" would have been good. But transmission was garbled, and the phone probably failed (or was dropped) pretty early on in the accident.

3)I think it's been established that it's impossible to hold on to anything for long in cold water. Yesterday I was reading in an old club newsletter of a rescue situation in Australia in 15C water where the survivor described how his attempts at self rescue became increasingly clumsy and difficult within 10 minutes or so. After 20+ minutes he could barely wave his paddle to a passing sailboat.

From seatemperature.org:
Sea temperatures Anacortes.JPG

We'll probably never know enough details to allow analysis of this accident. Type of kayak, paddler clothing and equipment, even the timing of the trip and the accident are all pretty much open to speculation, as far as I have read. Mr Lesemann may have been in the water, trying to self-rescue for some time before making that phone call to 911.
 

kayakwriter

Administrator
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
1,106
I don't take such a fatalistic view of the situation given the same skill:
1) given the same skill, if he was tethered - there may have been a possibility of rescue.​
2) given the same skill, if he had given coordinates - there may have been the possibility of rescue.​
3) given the same skill, if he could have hung on - there may have been the possibility of rescue.​

at the most, he was in the water 83 minutes [likely less] . . . will you positively be dead in 83 minutes or be severely hypothermic but still alive. Are those rules, rules? or variables?

or . . . if you are in the glue, do you give up or do you play for time
So obviously the best situation would have been not to swim in the first place. Second best would have been to be able to get the boat upright and back in it on your own, so you were at lest partially out of the water while waiting for help. (And, ideally, wearing some kind of immersion protection in either case.)

But even in the last-ditch, worst-case scenario - you're immobilized or unconscious from hypothermia and separated from the kayak - you're not dead yet. If you've previously been able to push the Distress button on a DSC VHF and/or deploy a PLB, and it/they are on your person, they're going to go on sending out your location with a high degree of accuracy, vastly reducing the time SAR will take to locate you. Those are both "Hail Mary" faint hope calls for sure, but it's not like you have anything more to lose at that point.
 

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
996
Location
Vancouver
Sad. A young guy. One of the reports posted above said that he “had kayaked before”. The problem with these reports is that they are so vague as to be useless. Was he on a surfski doing a downwind run or was he in a Costco rec boat and trying to retrieve a crab trap? In cases like these I miss Sea Kayaker Magazine and their careful investigations of accidents. This is exactly the sort of story that might be written up in a volume of Deep Trouble as a lesson for us all.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Kayak Jim

Paddler
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
320
Location
Comox Valley BC
I replaced my VHF radio a couple of years ago and opted for the non-DSC version for size/weight and battery life considerations. Had I read the discussion on this thread (especially Philip's points) prior to purchase I might have been swayed. And someone's earlier experience where the mic was blocked by splashed water so transmission was garbled.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CPS

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
941
Location
Bend OR USA
I started finding geocaches (www.geocaching.com) after I bought my first GPS because I wanted the button action to be muscle memory, not mind memory. Along the way, I experienced many of the errors a person can make. For example, when you first turn your GPS on, you will see a reading. But it is probably the reading from when you used it last. You need to move and/or give it time to reorient itself. More than once I'd head off in the wrong direction to find a cache, only to glance down at the GPS after a short distance of travel and see that it had updated and I was going in the wrong direction.

While kayaking I learned that spare batteries don't help me if they are tucked away in a dry bag under the deck. And though Lithium batteries are great for giving full power until they are empty, the problem is, they give full power until they are empty. So the battery power gauge might show "full" when you only have 3 minutes left. On the plus side, they have a great shelf life for a device that spends most of its life on the shelf.

Here in the PNW (Oregon and Washington), there are so many outdoor incidents that would have turned out differently had the person in need been able to communicate their location. The Spot, InReach, Zoleo, etc. - all devices that let someone know where you are and have an SOS option. Most have "off-season pricing" so you pay a lesser subscription fee for the months it is idle.

At one time I always carried a tether, even if it wasn't hooked up each paddle (like when with a group). But some instructors said it was a negative safety factor thinking one would get tangled up when exiting the boat. I'm pretty sure, with only a little effort, it would be easy to attach it, bundled in a way so it wouldn't interfere with an exit. I think I'll put it back in the boat.

But, unlike some of our more intrepid paddlers - looking at you Alex :) - I seldom get out alone.
 
Last edited:
Top